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Changing Jobs: How I Handled The Learning Curve

That Was Kindergarten, This Is First Grade: My Daughter Coaches Me Through A New Job

by Ashley Garrett  |  1589 views  |  0 comments  |      Rate this now! 

This summer, I started a new job after sixteen years in my previous position.  Talk about an adjustment!  The last time I went looking for a job, resumes had to be printed on creamy thick paper and job postings ran in the newspaper.  This time?  The whole process was digital.  Online job search, online resume, online project submission.  At least I got to do the interviews in person and didn't have to mess with Skype!  I adjusted to the new methods of job hunting (mothering teaches us to be adaptable above all else, right?) and I landed myself a really cool new opportunity.  I love my new job--it feels great to be 45 and "the new kid."

But even positive change is stressful.  Luckily, I didn't have to go it alone.  My daughter was experiencing a change of her own this summer--the shift from kindergarten to first grade.  Here are some of the lessons about navigating a new position that she taught me:1.  This calls for a new pencil case.

The kindergarten school supply list didn't include a pencil box.  First grade did, so the search for the right pencil box took on a Holy Grail level of importance in my daughter's mind.  Witnessing her delight at acquiring this pink plastic symbol of her growing responsibility made me want to get something special for my new desk, too.  Since I was all stocked up on pencils, I got myself some ridiculously nice headphones so I can listen to my Pearl Jam and Patsy Cline without scaring the Mumford out of the young people in the office.  New orchid, new shoes, new pencils--whatever the budget can muster--a new desk is an important milestone and should be celebrated!2.  Wait your turn to talk.

We all learned this one in school, right?  No one wants to come home on yellow or red for talking out of turn.  Here's how I apply it on the new job.  For the first few weeks, I refrained from expressing a divisive opinion.  I listened and nodded and said, "Hmmm" a lot.  Hold your cards a little closer to your chest.  As the new kid, there's no way you know the whole story yet.  Learn what the issues are and who's on what side of those issues.  That droning VP I snark about during orientation might be my boss' beloved sister-in-law.

3.  Raise your hand when you have a question.

My daughter’s advice:  "Asking questions doesn't make you look dumb, it makes you look smart."  When I hear an acronym that I don't understand or if there's a reference in a report that goes right over my head, I ask.  Being comfortable asking questions shows that you are secure in yourself.  Pretending like you already know it all when you don't can only lead to embarrassment.  Ask your coworker, ask your boss, ask the nice lady in the cafeteria.  You are there to learn, just like in school, and there are teachers all around you.4.  That was kindergarten--this is first grade.

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